Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols are both chasing elite home run milestones.
Judge is vying to pass Roger Maris (61) as the new American League record holder for most homers in a season, while Pujols is two home runs away from becoming the fourth player in baseball history to hit 700 in a career.
However, the estimated worth for each historic baseball is vastly different.
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Earlier this week, Brandon Steiner, founder and CEO of CollectibleXchange and The Steiner Agency, told ESPN New York he thinks Judge’s 62nd home run ball will be worth at least $2.5 million.
He thinks Pujols’ 700th will barely crack six figures.
“I think it’s a solid ball. Somebody in St. Louis could be more excited about that than necessarily nationwide … I think it’s a $100,000 ball, probably my guess,” the founder and former CEO of Steiner Sports Memorabilia told FOX Business.
A lot of factors go into the differences, Steiner noted.
Pujols plays in the small market of St. Louis, which “doesn’t have the same pizzazz.” Also, despite the fact he’ll likely enter the Hall of Fame as a Cardinal, he “bounced around” and spent 10 seasons with the Los Angeles Angels. He also spent a part of last year with the Dodgers.
“If he was at St. Louis his whole career, and have the momentum of having this great career, but his last years have not been great for him, and he’s lost some of his swagger,” said Steiner. “Except in St. Louis, he’s a god. He’s won them World Series, but he’s lost a little bit of swagger nationally. It’s gonna take a little bit of something to amp him up. St. Louis in the playoffs, something gets him in the amped up and it’s another ball game. I just don’t see that ball going for a ton.”
As for Judge, he’s probably going to win the MVP award in a New York Yankees uniform, automatically raising the value of the ball he hits for the record homer.
“Everybody’s all hyped up here in New York. It’s gotten national news, and that always brings people in,” Steiner said. “What amps up the price of a Judge ball is not only the insanity and the depth of a Yankee (fan) base, but the fact that the publicity that gets around from a great Yankee moment is huge, given the dollar amount,” Steiner said. “So whoever gets that ball is gonna be on every paper, every news station and radio station asking him, ‘Who is this guy and why did he buy it?’
“And that’s why people, a lot of times, jump into it. For a couple million dollars, now all of a sudden, you become somebody that everybody knows your name. And I’m not talking about ‘Cheers’ either. It’s like ‘everybody knows your name, everyone knows who you are.’ That’s what makes the Yankee balls and these moments so much bigger than maybe balls like this that happen in other parts of the country.”
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Judge is slated to become a free agent this offseason, and there is a real chance his Yankees tenure is coming to an end. But Steiner says it’s hard to say a new team for Judge will affect the value of the ball.
“It’s hard to tell now, but it’s definitely gonna be a big part of his legacy,” he told FOX Business. “We saw it happen with a couple other players that have left over the years. You go down the list from Bobby Murcer, Roy White. You go down the list of guys that should have much bigger legacies and didn’t. The Yankees are not a team you want to leave if you’re concerned with legacy. But I think the 61 thing is gonna be all hyped up, all of that is gonna be put to bed way before he decides what team he’s gonna go play for.”
Steiner also feels that Pujols’ last home run of his career – assuming he goes beyond 700 – may be worth more. But, no matter what number Judge gets to, unless he breaks Barry Bonds’ 73 hit in 2001, 62 is the magic number, especially since many baseball fans would consider that as the real record in light of the steroid era.
“It’s just the way it works … Technically, (Pujols’) last home run ball should sell for a good amount of money, and people should still try to keep catching it. Just like when Judge hits 62, I’d be interested in catching his last home run ball, if it ends up being 67, since that’s now the record, and you’ll get some money for that, but the 62 is the one that is gonna get all the hype and attention,” Steiner said.
Oddly enough, that wasn’t the case when Mark McGwire surpassed Maris in 1998, also with the help of steroids.
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The fan who caught McGwire’s 62nd home run ball gave it back to McGwire at zero cost, missing out on an estimated $1 million. However, his 70th home run ball that season sold for over $3 million. Steiner noted that because of McGwire’s PED use, its estimated value is now around $200,000.
“It was a different time, too, man. … That was just a moment where, ‘Jeez, that situation was so out of control,'” he said about the McGwire saga.
The college student who caught Judge’s 60th home run of the season Tuesday night gave it back to Judge in exchange for a Judge-signed bat and ball, and his three friends all got balls signed by the Yankees slugger. They also had a meet and greet and a photo with him.
But Steiner is urging whoever catches 61, 62, and beyond to not make what he feels is the same mistake.
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“I’m just hoping that the person who gets it calls Brandon Steiner. I hope somebody’s smart enough to get that ball, get the hell out of that stadium and call me.
“That’s a lot of pressure. It’s a shame, because it’s a big monetary game, and you gotta keep your composure, keep that ball and get the hell out of the stadium.”
Judge will try to tie — and break — the record Thursday night against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.